Style and Styling

The I’s Have It!

The I Body Shape

Happy day, dear reader!

We are more than halfway through our overview/review of women’s body shapes; there are only three left! A riddle for today’s shape: When women are asked what body shape they would like most to have, many answer today’s shape. What shape is it? Well, the title gives it away; it’s the I Shape!

What is body shape? (Hint: The numbers don’t matter!) Imagine your body shape as the silhouette, or shadow, you create.  The width of your shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other, and the definition of the waist, determine what that shadow looks like. The I Shape (like our friends, X, 8, and H) is a balanced shape, meaning that the visual width of the hips and shoulders is equal.  Unlike her X and 8 sisters, the I is less curvy, and has no defined waist. (Miss I is more like the H Shape in this. We’ll learn about Miss H in the next installment.) Look at a capital letter I. If you imagine the top of the I as the shoulders, and the bottom of the I is the hips, you get a feeling for look of an I.  I’s are straight up and down, and are often thought of as a model’s figure.

How to Determine Your Body Shape

Step away from the tape measure! In order to determine your body shape, take a full length photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. Print out the picture if you can, and lay a ruler on it. Draw a straight line from your shoulder bone (not the outside of your arm) to the widest part of your hip. For some women this will be at the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease, or across the thighs. If the line you draw is perpendicular to the ground and there is little to no difference between your vertical line and your waist, you may be  an I.  I’s tend to be very thin; if you have the equal shoulders and hips, an undefined waist, but are not very thin, you are more likely to be an H. Many curvy women wish they were I’s, but the I often wishes she were curvier! (The classic grass is always greener situation!) Celebrity I’s include Keira Knightly, Nicole Ritchie, and Nicole Kidman.

I Shape: What to Wear

I Shaped ladies are fortunate in that clothes generally hang well on them. If you are an I who wants to create curves, look for details that draw attention to the bust and hips. The ruffles and pleats that other body shapes avoid look fabulous on I’s. I’s also look great in horizontal patterns like stripes, even wide ones! These ladies have no worries about looking too padded in a Breton… Double breasted jackets are another way create width, and curves. Belt that trench for maximum effect. Flared short sleeves are great on I’s, as are tops with gathers and breast pockets. Choose softly gathered or pleated skirts to create the illusion of hips. Belts are an I Shape’s friend, and can be used to create a waist, especially with a softly bloused top. I’s can use color strategically to create curves as well.

Alison has a boyishly slim I Shape, and needed a wardrobe update to cover social events that she would be attending with her husband. She is a practical, comfort driven woman (No stilettos for her!), who wanted versatile pieces she could mix in with her everyday jeans and tees. You can see the soft draping on the grey sweater, light blue cardigan, and the blouse, that will add softness to her upper half. The flared skirt of the red dress creates a curvier shape, and belting the blue shift will also create the illusion of more curves. The shine of the bias cut grey green silk dress creates the appearance of more volume. (Shine makes an area look larger.) The scarf/throw is perfect to cover her shoulders in the gown, and adds softness to her shoulder area. These special occasion capsule can take her everywhere from brunch, to a dinner out with work associates, to a formal awards banquet without sacrificing the comfort and ease she prizes.

I Shape: What to Avoid

I Shapes can struggle to find clothes that fit properly, especially with the extremes to which vanity sizing has gone! I ladies may be bony, and this often appears most prominently in the decolletage. You can avoid drawing attention to this by wearing higher necklines, or softening the neckline with ruffles or gathers. Skip big statement necklaces that lie here as well. I’s can easily be overwhelmed by large scale patterns and oversized pieces. Too much volume can make an I Shape look lost inside her clothes. If you are an I, unless you want to always tuck your jeans, carefully check knee high boots before buying to ensure that they do not gape at the calf.

When You Love It Anyway

Finding small enough clothes can be a real challenge for a petite I. Like all the other body shapes, alterations and tailoring are one of the I’s best friends. Tops with too much volume can be taken in at the bust, and frequently trousers will need the same, especially through the hips and thighs. Pieces that are very tailored and shaped can be softened with feminine details. If you really want to wear that statement necklace, pair it with a turtleneck, or crew neck top for impact without overwhelming your decolletage. The same necklace can also look fabulous worn over a collared shirt. Large cuff or bangle bracelets work well with the same treatment. Lots of women wish they were I Shaped. Why? Because we curvy girls imagine that it would be easier to dress if we all looked like models, but the reality is that I Shapes also struggle to find clothing that fits well and flatters!

How about you? Can you better see the challenges of dressing other body shapes now that you’ve read a bit more about them? Have you found your body shape, yet? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,

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